The Office of Thrift Supervision published a rule Monday that will make it easier for thrifts to engage in electronic commerce.

The new policy states that anything thrifts may do by traditional means they may also do electronically.

However, thrifts must inform the agency 30 days before launching a Web site that lets customers perform transactions, such as paying bills, applying for a loan, or making deposits. That Web site will then be monitored by the agency.

The new rule also lifts a ban on customers applying for loans or opening accounts at automated teller machines.

Also Monday the OTS changed its assessment structure to take into account the complexity of a thrift's operations. Instead of basing fees on asset size alone, the OTS will include in its calculation how much a thrift engages in trust services, third-party loan servicing, and other activities that require more time and attention from examiners.

OTS said assessments will not rise for 90% of the thrifts it regulates. However, thrifts with large, complex operations-including 24 of the 50 largest thrifts-will pay more.

Both new rules take effect Jan. 1.

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